I had made reference to Ray LaMontagne in a comment on my endorsement of Patty Griffin, but this time it's his turn for a full-on thumbs up.
It's hard to put into words the style of Ray LaMontagne. It's definitely folk with a blues tinge. He has a raspy voice and sings with tons of heart. With so many of his songs being about loss and heartbreak, it's easy to get the sense that somebody "done him wrong." Plus, he's decidedly anti-celebrity. Until just a few years ago he was a carpenter in Maine. (Oh, and as if being a carpenter were not enough, in the picture to left, he is a dead-ringer for Jesus.)
In the last few months or so, Ray has appeared on several TV and talk shows, most notably Saturday Night Live, but I don't know that lots of people are very familiar just yet. Many of his songs have been in soundtracks to TV and movies, but he has a very distinct and very gravel-y voice.
Several years ago my pal Jennifer tried for months to get me to listen to his music, and I'm so glad that I finally did. I have seen him in concert twice, and much like my brief time in front of Patty, it was practically a religious experience. Try out Shelter (one of my top favorite songs) and You Are The Best Thing, which is a bit peppier.
You may even recognize a newer Ray connection in the form of this commercial from Travelers Insurance. It's a pretty crappy job of cutting the vocals from such a wonderful song, but it made me smile--not unlike the guy on his shirt here.
Thanks again, Jen!